Senate Bill 1080, which raises the legal age to buy nicotine or tobacco from 18 to 21, went into effect on October 1st after being signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. Health groups have criticized the law because it prevents local governments from regulating the sale and marketing of nicotine products in their communities.
The marketing of e-cigarettes to teens is particularly concerning to critics of the new law. A Cape Coral, Florida student was hospitalized this month after smoking an e-cigarette. Commenting on the case, Dr. Susan Hook told the Florida News Times that students should be warned it “is not a benign substance and they are hurting themselves”.
In Jacksonville, a sixteen-year-old student was taken to the emergency room after smoking an e-cigarette. Doctors confirmed that the student also had undiagnosed reactive airway disease, which made smoking e-cigarettes more dangerous.
Even though the dangers of teens using e-cigarettes have been highly publicized recently, over two million kids from middle school to high school have reported using e-cigarettes in 2021, according to a federal study.
The controversy was exacerbated when on October 12th, 2021, the U.S Food and Drug Administration authorized the marketing of three “electronic nicotine delivery systems” or ENDS. Also known as e-cigarettes, these are the first products of their kind to receive full authorization by the Administration. The order allows manufacturer R.J. Reynolds (RJR) Vapor Company to market their “Vuse Solo” and accompanying pods – specifically are the company’s Solo Power Unit, Vuse Replacement Cartridge Original 4.8% G1, and Vuse Replacement Cartridge Original 4.8% G2.
Noting the benefits of e-cigarettes for those wishing to quit smoking, the authorization makes way for other ENDS products to legally be sold in the United States. In the FDA’s News Release, Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products is quoted as saying, “The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals.”
However, the effectiveness of using e-cigarettes to quit cigarettes and other tobacco products is still under debate. The Centers for Disease Control states on their website that scientists still have a lot to learn about whether or not e-cigarettes can help adults quit smoking. The CDC also warns that e-cigarettes are not safe for children, young adults, pregnant adults, and those who do not currently use tobacco products. In conclusion, the CDC requests additional research into the safety of the product.
In the FDA’s news release, it states that these authorizations in no way mean that the products are safe or “FDA approved.”
The Difference Between Heated Tobacco Products and E-Cigarettes
The FDA’s authorization is for ENDS or e-cigarettes specifically. Though, it is important to understand the difference between heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes as it relates to how much nicotine is in each product. Heated tobacco devices heat tobacco within a specific temperature range without burning it, while e-cigarettes vaporize a liquid containing nicotine and other flavors. Both products can contain nicotine, although nicotine-free liquids for e-cigarettes are also available.
Nicotine In E-Cigarettes
Nicotine, produced by the tobacco plant, is a highly addictive chemical, which may lead to tobacco dependency. The average cigarette or heated tobacco product contains between 10 to 12 mg of nicotine, while the average e-cigarette contains between 0.5–15.4 mg (per 15 puffs). Differences in nicotine content between e-cigarettes vary greatly, and as the American Cancer Society mentions, not all ENDS products list the true nicotine levels. In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes also contain propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin to create the vapor or fog and may also contain the following chemicals: volatile organic compounds (VOCs), flavoring chemicals, as well as, the cancer-causing substance, formaldehyde.
Dangers of Nicotine and Carbon Monoxide
Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain a dangerous combination of nicotine and carbon monoxide. According to the American Heart Association, carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that an individual inhales when they smoke. The gas enters the lungs and then the toxins are deposited in the bloodstream, where it’s carried by red blood cells. Carbon monoxide increases blood pressure, which leads to heart disease, artery disease, and potentially a heart attack.
Working in tandem with carbon monoxide, nicotine can cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, the flow of blood to the heart, and may cause the arteries to narrow. In the U.S., smoking is linked to 90 percent of all cases of lung disease.
Research conducted at Bucknell University in Lewisburg is challenging the e-cigarette industry’s claims that ‘vaping’ is a good alternative to cigarettes and may help smokers quit altogether. The study shows that e-cigarette devices released toxic gas when used as they were intended, and could release levels that were twenty times higher than outdoor air quality standards when the devices were turned to their higher power settings.
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ENDS products are new and there has not been sufficient testing for scientists to determine whether or not these products are safe for regular use. It is yet to be seen, but a product liability case can develop if the product is found to be defective or hazardous to an individual’s health. A “defect” can stem from a few different factors, namely the manufacturing process, the design, or a lack of warning. Manufacturers may be held responsible for injuries and wrongful deaths caused by dangerous or defective products, even if there is a product recall or the danger was unknown.
If you have used e-cigarettes and have been injured as a result, our experienced product liability attorneys can help you get the compensation you and your family deserve. Call Panter, Panter, and Sampedro at (305) 662-6178 for a free case review.